Campaign finance complaint filed against Buescher
DENVER — A Republican activist filed a complaint against Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, claiming the Democrat broke the law by using state workers to coordinate his campaign for re-election.
The complaint, received by the secretary of state’s office today, said Buescher used his executive assistant, Heidi Hamilton, on state time for to help manage campaign appearances. Buescher’s calendar shows a meeting April 20 between Faye Diamond, a partner for RBI Strategies & Research, Buescher, Hamilton, and campaign committee member Eleni Albrechta. Denver attorney Robert McGuire, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Nickelette Bingham-Gullette, said Buescher ordered Hamilton to attend.
“It’s an illegal contribution for a candidate to use state time and office resources,” McGuire said.
All campaign finance complaints must be filed with the secretary of state’s office. Buescher’s spokesman, Rich Coolidge, said the complaint was forwarded to the Attorney General John Suthers, who will investigate and determine whether he will represent Buescher or advise him to get another lawyer. An administrative law judge must hold a hearing in 15 days unless Buescher requests an extension.
If the complaint is upheld, Buescher could face $50-a-day fines, for a maximum 180 days.
Mike Saccone, a spokesman for Suthers, said Suthers has not seen the complaint. He said although state law bars the use of state employees for campaign, Colorado courts have ruled executive branch officials including the governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer are on duty 24 hours a day and there is some wiggle room, as long as they report the contributions.
The complaint says U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., also used the same staffer when he was secretary of state to coordinate his campaign schedule when he ran for Congress in 2007. Records show Coffman voluntarily repaid the state $430.